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The Health Show: Revolutionizing Cervical Cancer Screenings
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The Health Show: Revolutionizing Cervical Cancer Screenings
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A medical team from the United States is training Rwandan doctors and nurses in a new program dubbed "See and Treat." A quick test using vinegar allows for an immediate diagnosis of cervical cancer, and low-cost treatment techniques are readily available.
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Produced by Rockhopper TV.

Originally broadcast as part of The Health Show

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Segment 1

VOICEOVER
Over 800 women have descended on this rural health clinic in Rwanda. They’re desperate to be screened for cervical cancer. Only a hundred of them will get the chance to be seen today by a team of American medical volunteers. Lead by Dr. Pam Silverstein, they’re piloting a scheme that they hope will one day save the lives of thousands of women.
DR. PAM SILVERSTEIN [Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist]
We came into this knowing there was a big need. The death rate from cervical cancer is 30 percent of the total female cancer deaths.
VOICEOVER
Since the experts and labs needed for high tech screening don’t exist here, a program called "See and Treat" has been developed as a low resource alternative. After filling in a questionnaire and receiving private counseling, the women are ready to be screened using a technique called VIA - Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid - or, as it is more commonly known, vinegar.
DR. PAM SILVERSTEIN
The speculum is used to open the vagina and then you can see the cervix at the end of it. This is vinegar at the end of this gauze; it’s 5 percent ascetic acid. It’s placed on the cervix for one minute and what the vinegar does is coagulate the protein so when you have abnormal cells in the cervix it coagulates to become a white lesion that you can see with a naked eye.
VOICEOVER
Using this test, around 18 percent of the women being screened at this clinic are shown to have abnormal cells in their cervix.
DR. PAM SILVERSTEIN
We do have a positive result, which means there's a white lesion right at 11 to 12 o'clock on the cervix.
VOICEOVER
This rapid diagnosis leads to immediate treatment.
DR. PAM SILVERSTEIN
Now we will do the cryotherapy. This is a cryo tank. It's filled with carbon dioxide. Here's the cryo tip. The high pressure creates temperatures at minus 68 degrees centigrade. So this will freeze the layer of cells that have the abnormal cells in it, causing that to blister up and be a dead layer of cells that then gets shed by the body over several weeks.
VOICEOVER
Though the equipment costs three and a half thousand dollars, treatment only costs around a dollar per patient, so it's very cost effective.
DR. PAM SILVERSTEIN
These women usually come from two to three hours away, so doing it in one day is a vital aspect of appropriate screening and treatment in developing countries.
VOICEOVER
The team manages to screen 110 women and treat 23. But as volunteers, they can't afford to stay any longer. So they've devoted much of their two-week visit to passing on their skills.
DR. PAM SILVERSTEIN
The outcome of this project was really gratifying because I realized that we can send teams not only to other places in Rwanda but other places in Africa and this could be replicated in many developing countries in the world.